Friday, May 18, 2018

The bleeding never ends for the Catholic Church

I'm sickened, disgusted, outraged and infuriated to read of the latest child sex abuse crisis involving clergy of the Catholic Church.

Every Chilean bishop offered to resign Friday over a sex abuse and cover-up scandal, in the biggest shakeup ever in the Catholic Church's long-running abuse saga.

. . .

It marked the first known time in history that an entire national bishops conference had offered to resign en masse over scandal, and laid bare the devastation that the abuse crisis has caused the Catholic Church in Chile and beyond.

Calls had mounted for the resignations after details emerged of the contents of a 2,300-page Vatican report into the Chilean scandal leaked early Friday. Francis had accused the bishops of destroying evidence of sex crimes, pressuring investigators to minimize abuse accusations and showing "grave negligence" in protecting children from pedophile priests.

In one of the most damning documents from the Vatican on the issue, Francis said the entire Chilean church hierarchy was collectively responsible for "grave defects" in handling cases and the resulting loss of credibility that the Catholic Church has suffered.

. . .

... there was "grave negligence" in protecting children from pedophiles by bishops and religious superiors — a reference to the many cases of sexual abuse that have arisen in recent years within Chilean religious orders, including the Salesians, Franciscans and the Marist Brothers community.

Some of these religious order priests and brothers were expelled from their congregations because of immoral conduct, but had their cases "minimized of the absolute gravity of their criminal acts, attributing to them mere weakness or moral lapses," Francis wrote.

But those same people "were then welcomed into other dioceses, in an obviously imprudent way, and given diocesan or parish jobs that gave them daily contact with minors," he said.

Such behavior has been the hallmark of the clerical sex abuse crisis worldwide, with bishops and religious superiors shuttling abusers from parish to parish or dioceses rather than reporting them to police or launching canonical investigations and removing them from ministry.

There's more at the link.

I detailed my actions in response to this crisis in a four part series of articles on this blog, several years ago.  What I said then remains true today, I think also for the church in Chile.

Let me be absolutely blunt about this.  The Catholic Church, as an institution, and its bishops acting as a collective, have lied, are lying, and will continue to lie to the people of God about this problem.  They have no interest whatsoever in resolving it - only in protecting their own power, and the institution of the Church as a whole, and its power and prestige in society.  They do not care about the individuals involved, or the victims . . . or the good clergy who have been tainted with the stench of this scandal.

How can I say that?  It's very simple.  Actions speak louder than words - and lack of action is, in itself, an action.  The Church, in the United States, in Chile, in the Vatican, and elsewhere, has taken little or no effective, meaningful action against those who were ultimately responsible for this scandal - namely, its bishops and administrators, who routinely concealed the extent of the problem, shuffled offenders around among themselves, and allowed them to continue to offend, rather than deal with the matter.  Even after the scandal blew up, many leaders of the Church continued to try to defend their offices and the institution of the Church, rather than admit that the situation was absolutely indefensible.  Many of the worst offenders were whisked off to Rome and given sheltered employment there, safe from extradition or any legal consequences of their neglect.  Many are still there.

The Church has also failed to act against the breeding-grounds for so many of these problems - its seminaries.  Rather than deal with that problem themselves, the US bishops cravenly abdicated their responsibilities to a Vatican commission, and little or no effective action has resulted from its report.  Many seminaries still tolerate, if not actively encourage, instruction that is at variance with (sometimes diametrically opposed to) Church teaching.  Modern theological experiments are emphasized over classical, and the traditional philosophical and spiritual underpinning of the priesthood appears to be conspicuous by its absence in the curriculum.  What there is of it is frequently corrupted to the point that it would be better not to offer it at all.  (For a valuable, albeit one-sided discussion of these issues, see here.)  Precisely the same problems appear to have affected seminaries in Chile.

By its lack of meaningful action, the Church has (in my opinion) condemned itself, and its current generation of leaders, to the most ghastly consequences, temporal and spiritual.  Millions of Catholics  - perhaps tens of millions - have left the faith.  I know I'm not the only priest who resigned in disgust and outrage over what was clearly no more than pious window-dressing to deal with the problem, instead of seeking real, meaningful solutions.  That has not changed, and it will probably never change under the present system of Church government.

The very fact that these scandals persist, all over the world, is the clearest possible sign that the Church does not care.  It has done nothing to truly deal with the problem.  It appears to be institutionally incapable of doing so.  Even the Chilean situation was obfuscated, glossed over, denied and dismissed, until the evidence became so damning that it had to be confronted.  My thanks, congratulations and condolences to those who worked so hard (and some of whom probably wrecked their careers in the Church) to ensure that the truth finally came out in that country.

May God have mercy upon his Church, and upon all those of her people who have tried to be faithful in the face of such criminal, ungodly indifference by those who were supposed to "tend the flock of God that is their charge".  Instead, they have proved to be worthy successors, not of the Apostles, but of another class of leader.  "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity."

I . . . I'm just too sickened by this to find the appropriate words.  I would even use profanity, if I could, but I don't know any swear words or phrases strong enough.

May God have mercy on all of us for our sins . . . and upon his Church, which appears to have abandoned (at least among its leadership) the truth and Godliness he wished for her.



Rev. Paul said...

As a Christian, the whole situation makes me weep with frustration. It's so wrong, on so many levels, including the obvious acceptance of "things as they are" by the leaders.

Michael Z. Williamson said...

Some of it seems to be a deliberate, utter, naivete. "Maybe if he prays enough, God will cure him, and he's a good man, so we'll send him somewhere else."

He may be a good man otherwise, but he is utterly sick and unsafe around children, and no amount of prayer will ever cure it.

And then, yes, the organization wants to defend itself, rather than excising the cancer.

ilbob said...

Since the chilean bishops offered their resignations the pope should accept them.

It is hard to understand why the church would tolerate this kind of thing in Chili given how destructive it has been elsewhere.

Jon said...

Sigh. It sounds like the Catholic church needs a special monastery, preferably somewhere in the arctic circle to send these bishops to repent.

And another one, preferably on a desert island for those who want to commit these sins.

For those who actually commit them, they deserve the full justice of the state.

kurt9 said...

The corruption of the Catholic Church is, I believe, representative of the notion that monopoly authoritarian institutions become corrupt over time. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This one reason (not the only one) why I am actually more of a "Randian/Rothbardian" libertarian today than I was in my 20's. I believe any concept of centralized power represents a "social" systemic risk the same way large banks represent financial systemic risk. When bad people get in charge of a centralized power entity, their damage is widespread and damages everyone. If society is radically decentralized, the damage caused by bad people affect only those who are close to them, not the entire society.

Murray Rothbard put it best. If people are, by nature, good then any kind of system ought to work. But if people are, by nature, bad then it makes no sense to put one person or group of persons in charge of all others.

Borepatch said...

Pournelle described the mechanics that led the Church to this sorry pass in his Iron Law Of Bureaucracy.

Eric S. Raymond had some interesting thoughts during the scandal involving Cardinal Law:

"Post navigation← PreviousNext →
The Elephant in the Bath-House
Posted on 2002-06-16 by Eric Raymond

Mary Eberstadt’s Weekly Standard article
The Elephant in the Sacristy shines a strong light on facts that
will discomfit many of the politically correct. I don’t completely
agree with her analysis; as Amy Welborn argues, Ms. Eberstadt is too quick to dismiss the role of the
doctrine of celibacy in creating an ingrown, perfervid, and corrupt sexual
culture among priests, and too easy on the culture of secrecy and denial
within which priestly abuse flourished.

I would go further than Ms. Eberstadt or Ms. Welborn; I think this
scandal is grounded in the essentials of Catholic doctrines about sex,
sin, guilt, and authority. This is not an accidental corruption of
the church, any more than Stalin was an accidental corruption of
Communism. Bad moral ideas have consequences, and those consequences
can be seen most clearly in the human monsters who are both created by
those ideas and exploiters of them. There is a causal chain that
connects loathsome creatures like the “Reverend” Paul Shanley directly
back to the authoritarianism and anti-sexuality of St. Augustine; a
chain well-analyzed by psychologists such as Stanley Milgram and
Wilhelm Reich. I suggest that any religion that makes obedience to
authority a primary virtue and pathologizes sex will produce abuses
like these as surely as rot breeds maggots.

One need not, however, attack the essentials of Catholic doctrine
to agree with Ms. Eberstadt’s main point: that the dominant media
culture seems bent on obscuring a central fact about the pattern of
crimes — which is that they are predominently homosexual abuse by
priests with a history of homosexual activity. Cases of priestly abuse
of females of any age are rare (though at least one horrifying tale of
multiple priests cooperating in the abuse of a teenage girl has
surfaced from California). The overwhelming majority of the cases
involve either pederasty (homosexual acts with post-pubescent boys and
young men) or homosexual pedophilia with pre-pubescent boys as young
as six years old. Yet you would be hard-put to deduce this from most
of the vague accounts in the U.S. media, which traffic in terms that
seem designed to obscure the gender and age of the victims and the
homosexual orientation of almost all the abusers. Why is that?"

To ask the question is to answer it.

Beans said...

Sigh. My church has left me, I haven't left the church. Between the sex scandals, the leftist propaganda, the denial of the Mysteries of God (and Christ), the money scandals, and Nuns buying stock in a gun manufacturer in order to try to change the gun manufacturer (really, what the heck is that all about and what Hungarian billionaire gave them the money for it?), well, the church of my youth is no more.

Sickens me.

Organized Religion seems to be in big trouble these days, not just the Catholics. The Anglicans/Episcopalians denying the existence of Jesus Christ (or saying he was a bigoted misogynistic pig) or just questioning the existence of God, just sickens me.

The scandals in other churches are just as bad, if not reported as much.

Getting to the point of just wanting it all to burn down, as it seems more and more that Satan and his minions have taken over God's Houses.

Old NFO said...

Sadly, those below the bishops SHOULD probably go too, but won't...

McChuck said...

Welcome to the Protestant movement, brother.

Catholic church corruption is nothing new. Martin Luther wrote and preached about it at some length 500 years ago.

Luke 17:1-2

Tom in NC said...

I think the 'activist nuns' who are buying gun company stock should channel their activism to stopping this abuse within the RCC instead of playing politics!!! And if they insist on the politics, then tax the church as any other business!

Jon said...

Protestantism has similar problems, they are just decentralized.

for the Orthodox, you guys are two sides of the same coin. Protestantism historically has often defined itself as "that which is not the Catholic Church". One has the infallible pope, the other the infallible book. Both have been twisted beyond recognition of what the early church would have recognized of the Bishop, and the place of the Scriptures within (not over) the Church.

In point of fact, Martin Luther rejected the inspiration of 4 books of the new testament, and 7 of the then extant vulgate Old Testament.

The actual problem here that Peter is bringing up is that those who were given the role of shepherd not only failed to guard the sheep from the wolves, they themselves clothed the wolves in sheep skins.

This isn't a matter of reform, or institutional protection. This is a matter of denying the gospel teachings. Bishops and priests who wink at or allow this are wrong.

Dave said...

Next guy who recommends Protestantism can explain how the Episcopal Church got tangled up with the FALN.

Not that it excuses the Catholic Church in the slightest.

Andrew Smith said...

Could this whole abuse thing gone on for so long without an active homosexual protection racket inside the Catholic church where offenders were merely parachuted in to another congregation where the innocent parishioners had no idea what was coming to them?

Glen Filthie said...

You have to understand the nature of the predator before you can effectively hunt him. This problem will not go away. Priests and clergymen occupy positions of trust and authority - which the queers and pedos need to get close to their prey. They also need camouflage - which the church and bible sadly provide. The church is not unique; you’ll find these predators everywhere from hockey coaches, to pastors, to political leaders in the highest offices. Wherever you have power of position and access to children... you’re gonna find pedos and queers.

McChuck said...

Dave - You can always change churches if you don't like their politics or dogma. Or ignore them completely, because we don't require priests to read the Good Book for us.

/end of discussion

Roy said...

I just want to say one thing:

Just because someone says it doesn't make it so.

Dad29 said...

Jon and Glen have it, I think.

This is not a problem of "the Church." This is a problem of individual men who are immoral--whether sexually or 'truth-challenged.'

Abuse of an institutional structure does not justify ending the structure; rather, it justifies ending the abuse.

Finally, Benedict XVI DID "de-frock" lots of sex-criminal priests, but only after a trial found them guilty. Remember that the Church has its own (Canon) law and--just as in the USA--one must be found guilty before punishment is rendered. In the case of the Church the only punishment available is "de-frocking"; the Church does not operate prisons. (I may or may not favor a return of Torquemada....) Once that priest is "de-frocked", he's on his own to make a living if he is not in prison via State trial and punishment.

You can argue that Cdl. Law should be "de-frocked," but you would have to provide sufficient evidence in a Canon Law forum to make that happen, and (based only on his retaining Orders at this time) the prosecutor either could not bring the case, or could not win it.

YES, seminary rectors (undoubtedly the principal cause of the problems in Milwaukee) must be held to much higher standards. Same for Bishops!!

But as we know in another context, no one can prevent all the crimes all the time. And blaming the tool (whether AR- or priest-collar) is ....ahhh......silly.

HMS Defiant said...

This is the Catholic church as it has existed for millenia. There's nothing new there and nothing has changed.
I have never understood why the police aren't called in and the offender simply arrested and dragged off to face a trial not by his peers but by the citizenry. There is never a need to engage a higher authority in sex crimes. Nobody goes to the principal when they arrest a teacher. Nobody should trouble the bishop when they drag a priest to the cells and put him on trial. Any bishops that object should be nailed in a box and mailed back to the Vatican.

Dad29 said... Bishop should ever prevent a proper trial for an accused priest. A District Attorney, or police officer, has a better shot at such "prevention" than does a Bishop.

That said, the term "proper trial" means that like any other criminal trial in the US, the evidence must persuade all of the jury, yadayadayada.....

A Canon Law trial is held ONLY for the purpose of "defrocking" the priest.